Donald Trump’s new US Secretary of Labor does not have a great track record when it comes protective employment and safety rights, leaving unions and safety campaigners fearing his choices to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Andrew Puzder’s mandate will cover the federal safety regulator OSHA, and by replacing the well-regarded David Michaels and Jordan Barab, this could undo hard-won safety measures introduced under the Obama administration.

Donald Trump with his new US Secretary of Labor Andrew Puzder.

Donald Trump with his new US Secretary of Labor Andrew Puzder.

Puzder, chief executive officer CKE Restaurants, is on the record as saying that workers are “overprotected”, with the serial breaker of overtime laws, noting: “Have you ever been to a fast food restaurant and the employees are sitting and you’re wondering, ‘why are they sitting?’ They are on what is called a mandatory break.”

A tighter silica standard, more stringent reporting rules and better fall protection were all opposed by business lobbyists, and could be early targets. They are also concerned a pending rule to update the 40-year old beryllium standard under discussion for years, could be dropped.

According to national union federation AFL-CIO, Puzder is an advocate of replacing human workers with machines, because, as the burger magnate puts it, machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case”.